Swat Analysis: War, Disintegration and other Narratives
By Animesh Roul
Swat Analysis’ is a Daily brief on the resurgent Taliban and their safe sanctuaries in Pakistan. The brief will be posted in regular intervals focusing on the developments in Swat province, NWPF and other Taliban hotspots. This is the second update.
The war between security forces and Taliban militants in the restive North West Frontier Province (NWFP) continues unabated, as the controversial peace deal in Swat valley lies in tatters due to the continued military actions against Taliban in Buner and Dir. The prevailing deteriorating situation in Pakistan exacerbates fear of disintegration of the South Asian country. Under severe International criticism for its inept handling of Taliban issues, Islamabad administration has now been resorting to a two-pronged strategy: threatening to step up the already initiated military offensive against Taliban and desperately trying to keep the dialogue option open with Islamists to usher peace in the region.
Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) chief Sufi Muhammad had vowed to bring peace in Swat valley in return for the establishment of Sharia courts. However, Sufi has now reportedly rejected the Darul Qaza appellate court set up by the NWFP government, blaming the NWFP government of unilateral action in establishing the Darul Qaza and has acted against the spirit of a meeting at Timergara, the main town of Dir (May01) on military operations in Malakand and modalities for a possible Taliban ceasefire ahead.
Muslim Khan, the Taliban spokesman has threatened that the Taliban fighters “would now attack security forces and government figures everywhere.”
Brigadier Fayyaz Mehmood Qamar, in-charge of Buner operation, was confident of completing the ongoing operations within a week. According to him, Taliban fighters are consisting of local militants as well as many Uzbeki fighters.
The military operation in Lower Dir has successfully been completed on April 28, as per the Pakistan Army.
With their strategy of Kidnapping and ambush very much intact, Taliban militants have destroyed a girls’ high school in Ningolai area in Kabal, targeted a power station with rockets in Mingora and attempting number of suicide strikes over the weekend. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Swat has claimed the responsibility for the killing of two security men in Khwazakhela area on May 03.
In Buner, the epicenter of battle, Pakistan security forces involved in the operation, claimed to have killed nearly 80 militants, including a leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), identified as Khalil, a.k.a. Alam Buneri in the weeklong battle. However, Muslim Khan refuted the reports of Buneri’s death. Security force personnel have foiled as many as 27 suicide missions in and out of Buner.
Taliban militants have been resorting to mass looting and vandalizing acts in Buner and adjoining areas. At least three Banks were looted and militants have decamped with money and other goods from Allied Bank at Tor Warsak, the United Bank in Jiwar and the Habib Bank’s branch at Bazargai on May 03. In contrast to these looting incidents, late in April, the Taliban in Swat have reportedly announced to reform the banking system and journalism in the areas they control.
Fears of Disintegration:
The Taliban’s resurgence brings two major concerns for the international community: Safety of Nuclear and missile arsenals and the ultimate disintegration of Pakistan. Arguably, the country has virtually been pushed to the verge of disintegration by allowing Taliban to rule over Swat and in large part of NWFP with Islamic laws in place. The collapse of the Pakistani government would give enough opportunity to Taliban and Al Qaeda elements to take control of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile arsenals.
Caught in Crossfire:
According to Geo TV news, the mass migration of civilians in Kagra and other parts of Buner are on the rise amid fresh battles between government forces and Taliban militants. So far thousands of displaced families have been shifted in refugee camps established in different districts of NWFP. The Taliban, in an apparent effort to defend against advancing security forces, have reportedly held over 2,000 people as human shields. Non governmental agencies working in Lower Dir have reported that about 70,000 people have been displaced within the district.
•May 05: Suicide bomber killed at least seven people including five security personnel and two children in an attack on Bara Qadeem checkpoint near Peshawar. Nineteen persons were wounded in attack.
•May 02: Sixteen Taliban and two soldiers were killed when about 100 Taliban militants attacked a security post in Spinal Tangi in the Mohmand Agency (FATA).
•May 02: Five Taliban militants, including two key commanders, were killed in fighting with the Security Forces (SFs) in Charbagh of Swat District.
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Part-1: SWAT Analysis: Keeping an Eye on the Resurgent Taliban April 27, 2009